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Declassified transcripts ... Benghazi

By Jim Killebrew

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[January 15, 2014]  The news of the recently declassified documents from the Department of Defense has caused a stir in Washington. Newly released Benghazi transcripts indicate the DOD generals briefed the secretary of defense on the night of the attack in Benghazi. Gen. Carter Ham on Sept. 11, 2012, was the head of AFRICOM, which was the organization in the Defense Department with combat command and jurisdiction over the operations in Benghazi, Libya.

Just minutes after the attack on the consulate began, Ham informed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, of the attacks. Ham, according to a declassified transcript, had testified that he was working in his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2012, when news came within 15 minutes of the attack that the consulate was under attack.

Ham stated the news originated from the Command Center at AFRICOM that the attack started at 9:42 p.m. Libya time. Ham said: "My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey's office, to say, 'Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away.'"

During an investigation from the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, convened on June 26, 2013, Ham testified of his meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Dempsey were already scheduled to attend a White House meeting, so when they left the Pentagon, they were armed with the immediate knowledge the consulate in Benghazi was under attack. At the meeting with the commander-in-chief, the secretary of defense briefed the president on the attacks. It was made clear to the president it was not a "demonstration" caused by the video, but indeed, an attack on the United States at the consulate in Benghazi.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee investigation in February 2013, Panetta stated he was the one who informed the president of the ongoing attack on the consulate. He stated, "There was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi." During that same hearing, Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., asked, "Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at the time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?" Panetta answered, "There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack."

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During that time the president was in a very close race for re-election that was only weeks away from the voting. Having an attack on the United States by an enemy he had repeatedly said had been decimated perhaps would have slowed his momentum so close to the election day. So, in spite of the information he had learned very shortly after the attack had begun, the presidential candidate as sitting president repeated a narrative of a demonstration gone awry that caused the deaths of the American ambassador and three other Americans.

Not only was that narrative repeated from the beginning, the president and his close top officials kept saying  for the next two weeks after the attack that it was the "video" that had caused the demonstration. The concerted effort of the "talking point" writers in the administration continued with the same line by giving Susan Rice the talking points for the weekend talk shows where she repeated a line that was already known by top military brass, the secretary of defense and the president was not true. In fact, the secretary of defense kept completely quiet during the two weeks the president and his top officials were out telling the public a lie about the attack.

Of course people are now saying the former secretary of defense should have spoken up and contradicted the president's narrative about the video as it was being spoken. Perhaps in hindsight and by the light being shown by the declassified transcripts, pundits can cast dispersion upon Panetta, but it was the president who trotted out to the Rose Garden the very next day after the Americans were killed in the attack to declare, "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." With this statement he unleashed the hordes of White House "talking point" writers to continue with that line at least until they were caught with lying when the truth finally came out.

With this latest discovery, it appears that lying is "baked in" to this administration. How can we expect anything but deception from this administration?


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